Recent Observations on the Healthcare Connect Fund
Bill Maguire on Reluminati’s ongoing project to enable meaningful rural healthcare delivery by leveraging new broadband deployment.
In addition to talking recent TeleHealth developments, Bill introduces a new white paper on the massive opportunity that exists for stakeholders.
At Reluminati we are working with stakeholders to take advantage existing federal support for broadband deployment in order to deliver meaningful impact to rural and underserved communities. In response to what I see as a call-to-action related to the Healthcare Connect Fund, I have co-authored the following white paper in the hope it might help some HCPs recognize the unique opportunities associated with the FCC’s new program:
Two Observations from the FCC/USAC Healthcare Connect Fund Program Training Sessions (Washington DC — Sept 23-24)
Observation #1: Eric Brown, President of the California Telehealth Network shared with the audience that CTN is preparing to release an RFP to cover 1000+ sites in California. Unlike the RFP that CTN released as part of their participation in the Rural Healthcare Pilot Program, this RFP was described as being designed to broaden the opportunity for smaller providers. Mr. Brown indicated his organization anticipates that the revised RFP will help secure more RFP respondents and noted that the potential participation of local telecom providers may well attract additional Healthcare Providers (HCPs) to join CTN.
Takeaway: Mr. Brown’s announcement would seem to reflect a lesson CTN learned during the Pilot. The revised RFP, when released, provides an opportunity for State Broadband Directors, local and community-owned telcos and alternative infrastructure providers (including BTOP & BIP awardees) prepared to support telehealth network deployment in rural areas. These orgs would be well-served to share the RFP details with key decision makers within their state’s existing or developing telehealth consortium. Telehealth consortium stakeholders should understand both how and why the design of an RFP can affect providers with more limited service areas and their ability to compete-for and win rural telehealth network business.
Observation #2: Linda Oliver of the FCC’s Wireline Bureau reiterated that the Commission believes it is unlikely that the $400 million annual cap it set for the Healthcare Connect Program will be met in the foreseeable future.
Takeaway: Given that the Heathcare Connect Program offers significant federal subsidy for the deployment of broadband facilities in rural communities, my takeaway is that the Commission’s statement should be seen as a call-to-action for those of us who support the deployment of broadband facilities in rural communities.
More to follow as the RFP emerges…
Tags: Broadband, Deployment, FCC, Health Care Connect, Healthcare, Telehealth